Teri Lynn Karren-Keith
October 28, 1965 – September 5, 2020
Teri was born in San Jose California on October 28, 1965. Born under the star sign Scorpio her life was defined by these powerful traits: passion, determination, and loyalty. The top song of the week was the Beatle’s Yesterday. From the beginning Teri has been aligned with greatness.
She moved to Portland as a young girl, settling in the community of St. Johns. She attended James John grade school and graduated from Roosevelt High School – Go Roughriders!
Teri was always a surprise. She was an active member of the high school water ballet team for most sports she could be found leading the audience as part of the Cheer Squad. She was ever famous for starting out meetings and presentations with ‘jazz hands’ It was one of her famous calling cards.
Shortly after high school Teri moved to Las Vegas where she landed an interesting job of selling cars at one of the local Ford/Porsches Dealerships. Even jobs were never ordinary for Teri.
Not too long after that Teri welcomed her daughter Chelsea into the world.
Vegas was not their forever home and when Chelsea was just a toddler, Teri moved back to St. John’s and her mom’s home.
A new opportunity opened for Teri and she became the program/activity director at a retirement home that specialized in Alzheimer’s care. Teri loved her residents and even when she was frustrated with the care facility politics, she took great joy in the pleasure her residents displayed.
Knowing that she would need a career, Teri joined State Employees Credit Union. She was the operations manager and found that she had an aptitude for numbers and managing people. It was there that she met Michael. In 1998 they married in Lake Tahoe and started their lives together. They were never apart until the day she was called to heaven.
Teri spent the next 24 years working in banking: at Key Bank, Albina Community Bank, and closing her career at Beneficial State Bank. It would be easy to end the story here, but there is just so much to say when reflecting on the life that Teri lived.
Teri was devoted to her family. Every member was precious. Every member had a special place in her heart. Her maternal grandmother provided the foundation by insisting that family traditions were honored, that family members attend events and mostly that everyone knew that they were part of a very large Scandinavian clan – the Rosholts. The Rosholt annual family reunion is still a revered celebration and while the attendance fluctuates from year to year, the sentiment of gathering to honor this legacy family remains.
Another tradition her Grandmother started was gathering the family on Christmas Eve. Over the years the theme of the event has changed. Once hailed as the night of high fashion, it eventually gave way to an ugly sweater night, and in some years a time to don pajamas. The passing out of gifts by Santa is part of the tradition. As the family has aged, so have the traditions. Santa’s lap is now a revered spot to jump upon. And the family hopes that Uncle Tom’s antique recliner, Santa's throne, holds up for the next several seasons.
Teri’s grandmother held the honor of being the first woman Postmaster in the State of Oregon. No small accomplishment for a gal from St. John’s. Teri’s bravery and determination were molded into her personality from the very beginning.
Teri adored her mother and her three uncles--Lou, Tom, and Randy. She never tired of telling stories of growing up in St. John’s. Saturday mornings were devoted to laundry and when weather permitted, a thorough house cleaning which included taking all the plants outside for watering and fertilizing. Teri remembers how her mom lovingly placed Jobes plant sticks in the soil and felt like this was one of the great accomplishments of her week. Teri relied on her uncles to provide that male role model, and they accommodated her by attending father/daughter events, and lent their support whenever they could.
Music always had an important place in Teri’s life. She most certainly got that love from her mom. The playlist of Teri’s life would have to include just about any genre, any artist, and any style. If it had a beat, and was easy to dance to, that was just a bonus.
Teri loved her North Portland community. She was never embarrassed and was always proud to talk about her roots. If you had a couple of spare minutes when out on a sales call with Teri, you would often find yourself winding through the neighborhood past houses where they lived, while stories were recounted. The memories and fondness were so obvious.
When Teri began her banking career, she would have never imagined that she would emerge as one of the most influential small business advocates in Portland. At Albina Community Bank , Teri was instrumental in bringing the reputation and credibility of this little bank to the pinnacle of its glory through her hard work, dedication, tenacity, and her willingness to fight for the deal even if she was told “no” the first time. Teri helped turn Albina bank from an unknown, into, “Albina Bank, yeah, I have heard of you.” To ultimately, “Yeah, Albina Bank, I want to bank with you.”
Teri never got tired of putting effort into understanding and growing her community. She spent countless hours involved with OAME, African American Chamber of Commerce, N/NE Business Association, Broadway Business Association, Alberta Business Association, Albina Rotary, Community Warehouse, Friends of Trees – and others too numerous to list.
Then came the Recession. And when all felt lost, and when banking felt the sting of deep economic strife, Teri was on fire. She learned everything she could about the SBA loan program – the ARC loan. Albina Community Bank led the State in recovery loans to our small business community. And that was only the beginning. Teri immersed herself in everything that was being imagined at the Portland Development Commission. She worked with emerging business, established businesses and businesses that were poised for sale or transition. Teri had found her niche.
Teri served on Senator Wyden’s Small Business Council and was a guest presenter at numerous small business symposiums. She provided understanding of the credit process to several organizations and was often sought after to deliver a presentation about getting a business credit ready.
Teri believed in service to the lending community and served on the Board and loan committee for MESO (Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon). Her energy and devotion to her clients is legendary.
When Teri and Michael moved to Tigard one of the first things that Teri did was volunteer to be on the City Planning sessions for affordable housing, and the Economic Development group that was addressing the renovation and rejuvenation of the downtown core. Teri wasn’t just a joiner, she did things so she could make a difference.
Teri could never be defined as just a banker. She took such a genuine interest in all her clients that many became personal friends. You never entered Teri’s office for a short visit.
If you were a potential new client, the intake process was usually quite a conversation. First – Teri needed to know who you were and where you came from. These conversations included understanding where you went to school, what kind of animals you had, things you liked to do in your spare time, children, siblings and likely there was some kind of food and beverage woven into the conversation as well. You never blocked out ‘an hour’ for an initial client meeting. The “getting to know you” phase took at least that long.
Then came the ‘tell me about what you are looking to do with your business’ Get people talking about themselves, listen and you will hear everything you need to know. Teri could engage someone by simply nodding her head, asking a couple of leading questions all the while formulating where the next phase would be – the deal.
Teri had a great way of saying no. Actually she rarely said no. If she couldn’t do a deal she would consult her bulging rolodex and find a way to get the deal done. She was networked with all sorts of organizations, and she was one of the best matchmakers ever. Because she spent so much of her time getting to know her clients it made it easy to direct them to the right resources.
Not only did Teri weave a quilt of amazing customers, but the relationships she fostered with her co-workers is just as important. Teri was a great sport. She was the first to sign up for a potluck, first to pick a costume for dress up day, and her door was always open for conversation. Believe me when I tell you there were always snacks in the snack drawer. Teri’s office was a tribute to her customers. It was adorned with African masks, wine, beer, chocolate, bobble heads, growlers and the list goes on. In some ways this office was the museum of Albina Community Bank. These were customers that Teri helped along the way.
There is no doubt that Teri was the consummate small business advocate and connecter. But without question Teri had a love of her community – and she adored her relationship with Meals on Wheels People – the MLK Center. Teri was instrumental in being the bank coordinator to set up our weekly Thursday deliveries – Route 6 – in the heart of N/NE Portland. Many of the seniors she delivered to have lived in the area their entire life. Their stories were one of the great joys of being associated with Meals on Wheels. In the early years if there was a scheduling challenge, Teri would deliver the meals herself. Feeding our aging seniors and making their afternoon a little brighter was something that gave Teri a great amount of joy.
Teri loved hard. She loved to be outside. She loved to travel. She loved the Oregon coast. She loved her home. She loved music. She loved her family. She loved her daughter. She loved her dogs. She loved the Food Network. She loved keeping up with Kardashians. She made the best deep fried taco. She loved loved loved her grandchildren.
She was not always proud to admit all of that, but she owned it and loved it regardless.
If Teri had a downside it was that she was too interested in everything, and if you were with Teri you were obligated to share that same enthusiasm. If you had a skill or a talent you could count on Teri to volunteer you to help whatever cause she was supporting. No one ever told her no.
The last few years were both challenging and rewarding. Teri’s health began to be a challenge at the same time she and Michael devoted all their time and attention to raising their two grandchildren Mathias Leo and Savyion Jae. Teri would never have made a choice to do anything differently. She would have just wanted more years to do more.
Teri leaves a void in so many communities. All her banking friends, family and clients are still mourning their loss. They have lost a teammate an advocate, a partner, and a voice of reason in an industry that sometimes forgets its role when dealing with clients.
Teri leaves a void in her family. As a mother, a grandmother, a coordinator, the maker of the clam dip – there is going to be a large period of adjustment as this family learns how to adjust to their new normal.
To all the organizations and business associates that Teri nurtured, she will be so greatly missed.
Gone are the days of belly laughs, firm handshakes, silly photographs, feasts, top shelf popcorn, a sip of tequila and those amazing days of friendships. They are really going to be missed.
If Teri were here, she would want us all to be reminded of these simple things.
Be good to your family. We all have a few nuts and gems, but they are all ours. Treasure them, appreciate them, love them.
As an employee. Do not just show up and do a job. Be present, look for ways to make things better, take risks, be an advocate, get involved do great work with integrity.
As a Grandparent. Never be afraid to be silly, snuggle a little longer, read one more story, and supplement your snacks with goldfish and popcorn.
Be kind to animals always. Keep treats on hand to share. Make their world better every day.
Be a loyal partner. No matter if you are married, single, coupled up, living together, or separating -bring your genuine self to the relationship – nothing is sexier than a girl who is humble and honest.
Live like Teri lived. You could hear her say this “I have met some strange people, but I’ve never met a stranger”. Give of yourself. Share what you have with others. Carry an extra apple and give it away. Share a smile, a hug and inspiration. Really…Just be like Teri.
If you are inspired to make a donation in Teri’s honor, please consider Meals on Wheels as your charity of choice. This organization was so near and dear to Teri and a donation to help their mission would be greatly appreciated.
Teri also loved her furry dog friends. Any organization that supports the care, wellbeing, and adoption of furry friends would bring a smile to her.
Teri is survived by her loving husband, Michael Keith. Sister Tracie Vifian, Daughter Chelsea Keith, grandson Mathias Leo, granddaughter Sayvion Jae, stepsister Robin Jackson, stepbrothers David Karren and Michael Karren. Teri’s Mother Sandi, Father Robert and stepsister Dona Stout preceded her in death. A very large extended family which includes, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and treasured friends.
There will be a service to celebrate the life of Teri on September 25th, 2020, 11:00am at Skyline Memorial Gardens. 4101 NW Skyline Blvd Portland, OR 97229 This will be an outdoor event that will observe strict COVID19 protocols. (masks and social distancing required).
While so many mourn the passing of Teri, we all celebrate the contributions and legacy that she leaves. May her spirit live within all of us, and her memory eternal.
Rest peacefully friend. Amen.
- Meals on Wheels Portland
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Teri Lynn Karren-Keith
Will and Rosemary Boyles
September 25, 2020
We had not known each other long, but the times we did spend, were very grounded experiences and I’m thankful for the opportunity and the love you shared.
When we had our work lunch, I walked away with a better understanding of who you were and the passion/love you had for people. It was all about relationships and helping people. You were so engaged with your work within the community and connecting our work worlds together was amazing. There will be a huge hole in our family and within our community with the caring impact you made.
Will has shared oh so many great memories over the many years with some being very humorous. ♥️ You will be oh so missed by all.
Rosemary and Will
Melanie Miers- Derstine
September 22, 2020
Teri, you were always a dear friend, a wonderful mentor and without a doubt, the best example of how to love unconditionally. You have made such a positive impact in my life, and your passing has left a void in my life, and in our community. You are gone, but your light shines on. Your memory will remain precious to me.
Missing you so much.
September 21, 2020
Teri was an amazing woman that truly believed in community first. She helped me secure our first loan to open our business 10 years ago when no one else believed in us.
Over the the years she became a trusted business colleague but more importantly a friend. She got to know my wife and kids and genuinely cared for others. Often times she jokingly stated "I love banking because of the people (customers) not the actually work."
Teri had a 'way' and laugh about her that made everything better. I am truly sadden by her passing and will miss her dearly.
September 21, 2020
I don't have enough words to describe how Teri impacted me and how deeply her loss is felt. She brought a smile and an open heart to every situation. She loved helping people, she was the very best as a friend, and she loved her family most of all.
I will forever remember her laugh, her amazing sense of humor, her smile, the way she loved her grandbabies, her dedication to helping others, and her ability to genuinely care about everyone else around her... even when she had so much going on in her own life.
I met her at work just a few years ago, but she very quickly became a very special friend to me. I know I was blessed to know her and will cherish each memory. In fact, I can't think of many memories with her that don't make me laugh. That is how I will remember Teri, as I imagine most people will...Full of life, love, and laughter.
September 21, 2020
I have too many fond memories to share here! What I will remember the most is laughing, laughing, laughing and crying because we were laughing so hard! For some reason, I'll also never forget her seriousness when it came to nachos and the lockdown layer of cheese! LOL!
I'm so lucky to have had Teri in my life for even a short few years. It is still so hard to believe she’s gone. Life is so unfair. In such an awful year and time in the world, we need bright lights like Teri’s. She always gave me hope in humanity. No matter what she was going through, she remained positive, giving, caring and did it all with a genuine smile.
No one will ever shine as bright as Teri, but I know many more people in the world will be trying because of her. She was and will continue to inspire us to be better, be present and be caring, to live, to love, to laugh.
Thank you Teri for your friendship!
September 20, 2020
I love you.
September 20, 2020
I love you.
September 19, 2020
We all miss your bright and positive spirit! I am so happy that I personally got to bond so tightly with you over these past 5 years.
Lexi and I enjoyed planning our family get togethers and holidays with you.
We truly miss our weekly visits when you and Michael would come pickup your precious grand babies from us.
We are so honored that we were chosen to be their god family and so blessed that we were able to bond with them weekly (until COVID 😢)
I will continue planning get togethers and holidays but will miss your input on the menu items and your help providing delicious food. Don’t worry, I promised you that I’d carry on the tradition of the family clam dip 😉
I will continue to help Michael with the grand babies and we will tell them stories about the most amazing grandma you were to them.
Thank you for all of the amazing memories that we’ve created together.
My heart aches for all of us missing you.
We love you forever and ever! ❤️
September 19, 2020
No words can be said to describe what an incredible woman Teri was. Warm, welcoming, caring, loving, smart and super funny only scratches the surface. If you met her, you’d love her. I’m going to miss her, as we all will ... and do. Sending my love to the family during this most difficult time. Love you all ❤️
September 19, 2020
Teri was one of a kind. I have so many memories it is hard to know which one to write. There is a piece of my heart that died with Teri on September 5th. I have spent years having her be my 'let me bounce this off you' sounding board. We have cried and boy have we laughed. I will never be able to drive MLK Jr. Blvd, visit Peninsula Park or stop at Popeyes for fried chicken without thinking of you. You were an outstanding banker, and a beyond the moon friend. I stand in your shadow, but will commit to keeping up the great work that you have started. While the lights seem a little dim right now, your bright light lives in many. Rest Peacefully my dearest friend. Mary Edmeades